Homilies

Baptism of the Lord

My name is Matthew. And about two years ago, I went and saw Bishop Finn to discuss with him an issue some parishioners had concerning confirmation.

At one point in our discussion, the bishop said to me, “The problem at Holy Family is that you have empowered people and given them a voice and then they expect someone to listen to them.”

I responded by saying, “Bishop, that is why the two of us will never see eye to eye, because you see that as a problem. And I see it as just being church.”       Read More →

Epiphany

During World War II, an American soldier was on duty outside London on Christmas morning. Wanting to observe this special day in some way, as dawn was breaking, he and some of his fellow soldiers walked down the road that led into the city.

Soon they came upon an old, gray, stone building over whose main door were carved the words, “Queen Ann’s Orphanage.” They decided to knock and see what kind of celebration was taking place inside. In response to their knock, a religious sister came and explained that the children were orphans whose parents had been killed in the many bombing raids that took place in London.

The soldiers went inside just as the children were tumbling out of bed. They noticed there was no Christmas tree in the corner. And there certainly were no presents.        Read More →

Solemnity of Mary

My name is Mary. Some of you will remember I was with you not too long ago, but I never tire of telling my story, so I am back again.

I am Mary and I am pregnant with God. I feel life growing within me.
A life which is filled with possibility and promise.
A life which needs warmth and nurturing.
A life which will redeem and save the world.        Read More →

Feast of the Holy Family

In the classroom hallway hangs a project by one of the PSR classes. There is a sign, which says: “My family is important just like the Holy Family,” which is surrounded by drawings of families, some of them rather interesting. Check it out when you have the time.

And our parish mission statement says in part: “Following the example of the Holy Family, we seek God by celebrating, growing and living our faith.”

Both the PSR project and our mission statement indicate our families are to be like the Holy Family – our parish’s feast day we celebrate today. Read More →

Christmas 2013

On behalf of the staff and myself here at Holy Family, I again wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope each and every one of you gets to spend time tonight or tomorrow with those you love. And may we all be renewed in our belief that God is indeed with us – God is Emmanuel! And allow that belief to make a difference in our lives.

So there was a priest in a small country parish. Perhaps it was Odessa. Perhaps it was Oak Grove. Or perhaps it was somewhere else. He was very proud of the Nativity scene that was displayed on the front lawn of the church.        Read More →

Fourth Sunday of Advent

When I was a boy growing up on the farm, we did not take long family vacations because my father never wanted to stray too far or too long from the cattle.

We did however take short day trips every once in a while during the summer. One of those occasional trips was to Santa Claus Land, a small amusement park, now known as Holiday World, which along with rides, had the added attraction of Santa in residence year round.

Both in our comings and goings from Santa Claus Land, driving on the winding two-lane highway rolling through the farmlands of southern Indiana, we always passed a rather large church on a hill, with many buildings surrounding it. And sometimes we would take the time to stop there.

Never in my wildest dreams as a child could I have imagined I would end up spending six years of my life at this large hilltop complex and experience there the first tugs at my heart to live a monastic life. The large church on the hill was St. Meinrad Archabbey.        Read More →

Third Sunday of Advent

On the second Sunday of Advent – in all three years of the lectionary cycle – John the Baptist appears like a roaring lion or a trumpet blast.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are consistent in presenting John in the light of the prophecy of Isaiah: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’”        Read More →

Second Sunday of Advent

As we reflected on before Mass, there are a lot of contrasts in today’s readings:

Wolfs and lambs. Calves and lions. Babies and cobras. Crooked ways and straight. Rough and smooth. Light and darkness.

And it is Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, who is the only one who is able to bring these opposites together.        Read More →

First Sunday of Advent

It’s Advent again . . . a time and season of waiting and watching and preparation.

It’s Advent again . . . a time if we are not careful that can be a time of rampant materialism and busyness and tension that looks forward only to a much too secularized and too commercialized Christmas holiday.

Yes, it’s Advent again . . . a time when IF we dare to dream dreams to see the world as God sees it and God sees us can be a time like no other, a time in which we pause and ask Christ into our hearts, to live and breathe within us, to use us to help bring light into darkness and fruitfulness into bareness.        Read More →

Thanksgiving

In our country, Thanksgiving is usually traced to 1621 when a pilgrim leader, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of feasting to commemorate the first harvest after a long year of suffering.

What you may not know is that, as the colonies grew more prosperous, the people forgot all about Thanksgiving and the meaning it held for their ancestors. As a result, for generations Thanksgiving was celebrated sporadically, if at all, with no set date.

Then in 1822, Sarah Hale, a young widow from New Hampshire, who also gave us the nursery rhyme about a girl named Mary and her little lamb, decided to revive this important celebration.        Read More →

Christ the King

Just so it doesn’t slip up on you, Advent begins next weekend. And so in the lectionary, our book of readings for Mass, we move from year C where we have been reading primarily from St. Luke’s Gospel, to year A, when we will read primarily from St. Matthew’s Gospel.

In case you need one more reminder before our departure from Luke, Luke sets the tone for his Gospel as well as the focus of Jesus’ ministry early on – in Chapter 4 – when Jesus goes to his hometown of Nazareth and reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah:        Read More →

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

God will take care of us, now, and in the world to come. That’s one of the things we learned from the scriptures last Sunday and one of the things we needed to hear before today’s Gospel reading, because Jesus doesn’t hold anything back this week. He wants us to know if we follow him, things aren’t going to be easy, so he wants to be as realistic as possible.        Read More →

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

I spent a lot of time the last couple of weeks reading scripture commentaries for today’s Gospel, because let’s face it: it’s a tough one.

Most everything I read made a point to say that this is one of those rare moments in St. Luke’s Gospel when Jesus speaks directly about heaven and the life to come there, much like we heard him speak when he told the parable about the rich man and Lazarus.

But wait, you may say, Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of God all the time, and you would be correct. Since we have picked back up reading Luke’s Gospel on the 10th Sunday of Ordinary time in June until today – the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary time, Jesus has mentioned the Kingdom of God no less than nine times, just in the parts we’ve read, which is quite a few times.

Our common mistake is in thinking that when Jesus mentions the Kingdom of God, he is talking about heaven – about something yet to come, instead of something that is already here.        Read More →

Alice Stanchik Funeral

On behalf of myself, Peggy Petersen and John Winkels who helped you plan this funeral, and on behalf of the parish community here at Holy Family, I extend to you, Dennis, Doug and Debbie, our deepest sympathies on the loss of your mother, Alice.

Even before we are born, as God begins the marvelous work of knitting us together in our mother’s womb, a very special bond between mothers and their children begins to form. And somehow, no matter how old we get, we never outgrow the need for our mothers.

So you have lost a very special person in your lives, not only someone who dressed you in your clothes when you could not do it for yourself, but someone who taught you the importance of clothing yourself in the values St. Paul mentioned in his letter to the Colossians: heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And so our prayers are with you this day and in the days to come.       Read More →

31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Over the years – I have learned that people do crazy things when they are in love.

When my parents were dating, my mother found out that my dad liked to play tennis, so she invited him to play with her sometime, just so she could be with him.

Now my mom never knew the first thing about playing tennis, but she thought it looked easy enough.

Well my dad quickly found out she did not know how to play tennis, nor did she know too much about the game, which she proved when he gave the score: 10-love, and she responded, “Thank you dear,” thinking he was being romantic.

I know people who when they first met someone changed their shopping habits, their eating habits, or their banking habits, because the person they met worked at a certain store, or was a waiter or waitress at a certain restaurant or was a teller at a particular bank.        Read More →

All Saints Day

I was so close. I just had to go. Yes, when I was in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for my 25th anniversary of ordination, I was a mere 40 miles away. I just had to go.

So on a foggy morning in late September, I began my pilgrimage – for it truly was a spiritual experience. So through the boroughs, villages and townships of the rolling hills of the Laurel Highlands, I went – to Shanksville – the site of the crash of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

Providentially it was 9:11 when I got out of my car in what had been a common field 12 years before, but now is said to be a field of honor forever.       Read More →

30th Sunday of Ordinary Time

At the end of my homily last week, I used this quote from Abbot John Chapman of Downside Abbey, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries:

“The only way to pray is to pray; and the only way to pray well is to pray often. If one does not have time for this, then one must at least pray regularly. But the less one prays, the worse it goes.”

The only way to pray is to pray, but I think sometimes we can get all bent out of shape over our prayer and think things like:

“I don’t know how to pray.” Or, “My prayers are so simple, there’s got to be more to it.” Or, “I’m sure everyone else prays better than me.”       Read More →

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

How much time to we give to God in our worship and our prayer?

Where your treasure is, there your heart shall be…

One month ago, I gave you a challenge coming from my literary and spiritual friend, Matthew Kelly.

The challenge was to spend a minimum of 5 minutes in prayer, every day, without exception – and see what a difference it could make.
Read More →

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The poor, the outcast and the marginalized – all have a special place in St. Luke’s Gospel. So we should not be too surprised that a foreigner, a Samaritan, teaches us an important lesson in today’s Gospel. And that this story is paired up with an Old Testament story of another foreigner, Naaman, a Syrian who also teaches us an important lesson.        Read More →

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

My name is Lazarus, a Hebrew word meaning “God has helped.” Not to be confused with the dead guy Jesus called out of the tomb which happens only in the Gospel of John.

My story is only found in one Gospel, too – the Gospel of Luke. I think I’m found here because in Luke’s Gospel Jesus has a special concern for the poor and marginalized.

I know it has been a while for you, but remember Jesus began his public ministry in Luke’s Gospel by going home to Nazareth, attending synagogue and reading from the prophet Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”        Read More →

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

A friend of mine showed up at Mass the other weekend. When I was talking with her after Mass, I asked where her husband was.

She said, “Oh, I won’t see him all day.”

“Why?” I asked. “Is he working today?”

“Oh no,” she said. “Today is the day for picking teams in his fantasy football league. He’ll be with his friends all day scouring over pages of data, to get good players for his team.”        Read More →

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The message of Jesus in last’s week’s Gospel was that our relationship with God, and our relationship with fellow members of the Body of Christ and our commitment to attend the Eucharistic feast should be so strong that nothing should stand in the way – not even family relationships.

So I don’t think you could ask for a better follow up, than what we have in today’s first reading. Because the Israelites were given the same message as us in the Ten Commandments:

“I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me.”        Read More →

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

What a difference a week makes! And I’m not talking about the weather – but the tone of the Gospel.

Last week Jesus was challenging us to be inclusive, “When you give a banquet, invite the crippled, the lame, the blind.”

This week, he tells us no one can be his disciple unless they hate their father, mother, wife and children.”

What are we to make of this?       Read More →

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Bigger barns keep us from entering the narrow gate that leads to the kingdom of God, but bigger hearts always get through. So how wide can we expand our hearts?

That’s a question to focus on as we begin the second half of the term on St. Luke’s Gospel – stretching from now until the beginning of Advent – as Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem.

To get the answer as to how to go about expanding our hearts, we have to pay attention to Jesus’ words and actions, which even the Pharisees, are doing at this point, “observing Jesus carefully.” But they are doing it in order to criticize Jesus. We must do it in order to imitate him.

So there are two things to learn in today’s Gospel. Two values that we need to practice to expand our hearts: humility and inclusion.        Read More →

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Way back when, after we celebrated Pentecost and the solemnities of the Holy Trinity and the Body and Blood of Christ, we resumed our pre-Lenten counting of Ordinary Time with the 10th Sunday.

Today we are at the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time on our way to the 34th Sunday, which is also the feast of Christ the King. So we are right at the half-way point of this long summer and fall stretch of Ordinary Time.

Now even though school has just resumed, Jesus is like a good teacher today – giving us, his students – a mid-term exam to see if we have been paying attention and are learning a few things from St. Luke’s Gospel.       Read More →

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Martin Luther once wrote, “I have so much to do today. I should spend at least the first three hours of the day in prayer.”

I have that saying taped to the mirror in my bathroom so I can see it every day, because, of course, so many days I tend to think the opposite of Martin Luther.

“I have so much to do today. I certainly don’t have time to pray.”

And if I can be honest enough to admit this, certainly all of us can.       Read More →

Assumption

Note: Father Matthew gave two different Assumption homilies. He gave the first one presented here at the 6:30 p.m. Mass. The second, he gave at 6:30 a.m. and noon.        Read More →

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

If we truly believe that God’s love helps us: Stand Strong! And we truly believe that trusting God helps us: Stand Strong!

Then we can stop our pursuit of more – more money, more possessions, more time; bigger barns, bigger bank accounts and bigger storage spaces – and grow rich in what matters to God, and not worry about storing up treasures for ourselves.

But why should we do this? Why should we put all our eggs in this basket? Why trust God? Because over and over and over again, God has proved to be worthy of our trust!       Read More →

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

There is an old Russian folktale about a peasant couple who after each evening meal would say, “If only we had more land, then we would be happy.”

Over the years, the couple were able to pick up an acre or two here and a few more acres over there. But still, after every meal they would say, “If only we had more land, then we would be happy.”

One day a rich man from a neighboring village who had more land than he could possibly use, came to share a meal with them.
After hearing their post-dinner plea for more land, he asked the couple, “Well, how much land would be enough?” The peasants both thought for a while and then the man responded, “Well, I should think all the land I could walk around in a single day would be quite enough.” Read More →

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Father called children up to spend time with him. He read the story: “Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth,” written by Douglas Wood and illustrated by P. J. Lynch: Candlewick Press, 1999.

When I was little, my Grandad was my best friend. Being with him always made the world seem right. Grandad and I liked to go for walks in the woods together. We didn’t walk very far. Or very fast. Or very straight.

While we walked, I would ask him questions about things I wasn’t sure of.

“Why is it, Grandad . . . ?” I would ask. And “What if . . . ?” And “Does it ever . . . ?”

One day I asked my Grandad about prayers.        Read More →

JoBeth Miceli

Don, even though the writer of the book of Proverbs wonders who can find a capable wife, you managed to do it.

On one fourth of July in your teenaged years, you found the gem of your life – JoBeth — and together, you created a home and family where strength and dignity, laughter, wisdom and kindness were found. For just shy of 50 years, you kept this partnership thriving. One of JoBeth’s hopes was to make it to the celebration of your 50th anniversary in September. Thankfully you were able to mark this milestone at the cathedral a month or so ago.       Read More →

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Picture it: Ketchikan, Alaska, June 5, 2013. I’m in a small gift shop after touring Totem Bight State Park, looking at some of the same gift items I have been looking at in every other gift shop I have visited over the last week.

However, being in a place which honors native Alaskans, referred to by the locals as “First Nation Descendants,” I feel compelled to at least buy something. So I jostle through the crowds clutching a few postcards and a small totem pole.

“How are you?” asked the young clerk. So many people associated with the tourist trade in Alaska seem barely out of high school. Although this might really be sign that I am just getting older.

“I’m fine,” I replied. “And how are you?” I quickly added.

“It’s been a long day already,” he responded at 11 o’clock in the morning.        Read More →

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The preacher of a well-to-do church was once cleaning up the sanctuary after the Sunday morning service, when he noticed a farmer approaching him up the center aisle, wearing a well-used set of overalls still tucked into his well- soiled farm boots.

“May I help you?” asked the preacher.

“Well, I’d like to become a member here,” replied the farmer. “How do I sign up?”

Not expecting that this is what the man was going to be asking, the preacher looked him up and down from head to toe and decided the farmer would not fit in very well with the rest of the congregation, so the preacher said:

“Well, joining a congregation is a big decision. So I would like you to go home and pray about it each day for a week – and if you still think God is calling you to be a member of this church, come back and we’ll talk about it.”     Read More →

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Who was John Sullivan?
John Sullivan was born in Horton, Kan., on July 5, 1920, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Oklahoma City in 1944. In 1972, he was appointed the Bishop of Grand Island, Nebraska, and in 1977 was installed as the Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri. He died at the age of 80 on February 11, 2001.

Who was John Sullivan?
He was a man who once he heard your name would remember it until the end of time.        Read More →

11th Sunday of Ordinary Time

My name is Jesus. Now, don’t be surprised by this, as I am always here with you when you celebrate Eucharist. I’m present in your humble presider, revealing myself through the proclaimed words of Scripture, giving myself to you in my very body and blood and don’t forget that I ‘m also present in each and everyone one of you. So perhaps maybe you’re just not used to me being so direct.

But, I thought maybe it was time that you heard my perspective on the happenings of today’s Gospel. You heard it from St. Luke’s point of view, but even he did not know what was going on in my mind and heart at the time.        Read More →

Holy Trinity

Since we may be the only presence of Christ someone is going to encounter in their lives, and since we cannot pass up a single opportunity to make God’s kingdom known, we cannot give in to our fears or be overwhelmed by our discouragements.

And so we must return, as did Jesus – and return often – to the source of our strength and courage, the source of God’s grace and power in our lives – the intimate, covenant relationship we have with God through our baptism.

At our baptism, we were called into an intimate relationship with God who we profess as Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

But where is this God we profess? And what is God like, we may want to ask.        Read More →

John Winkels’ Rendition of “On Eagle’s Wings” to Honor Father Matthew

Pentecost

This past Tuesday, May 14, aside from being the hottest day of the year so far, was my 25th anniversary of ordination. It was a full day. I presided at Mass in the morning, then was engaged with the staff in planning from 9 to 4, then had dinner with 30 or so priests who I had invited to celebrate with me.

Today, I don’t want to focus on myself alone or on the past. Today, on the feast of Pentecost, I feel compelled to focus on us – every priest here – and what we are called to do in the present and in the future.        Read More →

Ascension

Dorothy Day, who along with Peter Maurin, founded the Catholic Worker movement in 1933, once wrote about an experience that affected her whole life:

My neighbor, Mrs. Barrett, gave me my first impulse toward Catholicism. It was around ten o’clock in the morning that I went up to my friend Kathryn’s to call for her to come out and play. There was no one on the porch or in the kitchen. The breakfast dishes had all been washed. Making my way to the front room, I found Kathryn’s mother on her knees, saying her prayers. Mrs. Barrett turned to me to tell me that Kathryn and the other children had all gone to the store and then went on with her praying.       Read More →

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Our Gospel today is part of Jesus’ heart to heart talk – his farewell address – given to his disciples at the Last Supper in John’s Gospel. We read some of it last week, and it continues this week.

And since it is the time of year for graduations, we could just say this is Jesus’ commencement address to his disciples. For Jesus was soon to leave them.

“My children, I will be with you only a little while longer,” he told them last week, and no doubt, the disciples were scared and probably just a little disappointed.       Read More →

Lorraine Basinger

On behalf of myself, John Winkels and Peggy Petersen who met with some of you on Sunday to help prepare today’s celebration, and on behalf of the parish community here at Holy Family, I want to  especially extend to:

Cissy, Lucy, Donna, Larry and Dean, our deepest and sincerest sympathies on the loss of your mother, Lorraine.

It is hard to lose anyone that we really love, but I think there is something especially difficult when we lose our last parent. The stark reality of our own mortality comes crashing upon us – as we now know – that we are the oldest generation of the family.

Your mother was proud both of her Mexican heritage and of her own family of origin, being the somewhat official family historian. She would want all of you to pick those two things up in your own way, to make sure the stories continue to be passed to future generations. Read More →

Josephine Gialde

Jo Beth and Kathy – on behalf of myself, Peggy Petersen and John Winkels who met with Rozanne on Tuesday, and on behalf of the parish community of Holy Family, I extend to you our deepest and sincerest sympathies on the loss of your mother. And I consider it an honor that we can help you out in your time of need.

Even before we are born, as God begins the marvelous work of knitting us together in our mother’s womb, a very special bond between mothers and their children begins to form. And somehow, no matter how old we get, we never outgrow the need for our mothers. So you have lost a very special person in your lives. And so our prayers are with you on this day and in the days to come.        Read More →

Fifth Sunday of Easter

I have never been much of a Book of Revelation guy. Give me the challenging parables of the Gospel, the philosophical images of St. John’s Gospel, even the droll events of the historical books of the Old Testament, but keep the flowery words and phrases and images of the Book of Revelation far away from me!

But after four weeks of reading the book of Revelation as our second reading throughout the Easter season – and having one more week yet to come – it’s probably time for me to get over my inhibitions and break my silence on what really is very interesting reading.

The Book of Revelation is also known as the Apocalypse, from its very first word, Apocalypsis, Greek for revelation.

The reading and understanding of this book of Scripture is frequently flawed by treating it as a coded prediction of the end of the world.
It is, in fact, not the revelation of a new message or a secret design about the future, but just the presentation of the Good News of the Gospel in a different form.        Read More →

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Children are called up for the story: “Ewe” by R. W. Metlen

Hey! Yeah, Ewe. Ewe’s a sheep. That’s what Ewe is. And like most sheep, Ewe’s got a shepherd. His name is David.

David is a good shepherd. He loves Ewe no matter what. No “ifs,” “ands,” or “maybes.” No “except whens” or “buts.”

That’s good, because Ewe is not perfect! Not even close. But David still loves Ewe . . . from Ewe’s head to Ewe’s toes.        Read More →

Third Sunday of Easter

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

Some Scripture scholars want to say this is a defining moment for Peter: He has given up!

He has abandoned this whole good news to the poor and release to captives stuff Jesus had been trying to teach them all for the last three years! Peter is simply going back to his old profession: fishing!

However, as both a student of Scripture and grief therapy, I tend to read these passages not as Peter’s abandonment of the Gospel dream, but as Peter just doing some good grief work.        Read More →

Second Sunday of Easter

Happy Easter! As with Christmas, the celebration of Easter within the church does not stop on the day Easter, as it does out there. But our celebration of Easter within the church only begins on Easter. For we are given seven weeks – a week of Sundays – all the way to Pentecost to celebrate the power of the empty tomb and to say over and over again:  Alleluia!

For those of you who celebrated Easter somewhere else last Sunday, I hope you had a good time spent with family and friends wherever you were.

Here at the Easter Vigil, we baptized one new member and had six others who made a profession of faith – becoming full members of our church. All seven were confirmed and received the Eucharist for the first time. We will have one more person to make a profession of faith on April 21, because she could not be here for the vigil. You will hear from one of these folks and what they are thinking and feeling about their experience at Mass next weekend.        Read More →

Jack Parra Funeral

To the family and friends of Jack, I offer you the comfort and support of this faith community of Holy Family, the spiritual home of Leandra and Claudio. And we are honored to help you in this time of need.

What a testament to Jack’s love of family that we include almost every member of his immediate family – sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews – in all the various ministries of this celebration of his life.

Jack would just be disappointed that he will miss out on the meal we will share together later, but he is enjoying a vastly more expansive meal, now, as he joins the heavenly banquet.        Read More →

Easter Sunday

On behalf of myself, and the staff here at Holy Family – as well as all our regular parishioners – I would like to welcome any guests who are among us today. And if you like the experience of liturgy and community you are having with us today, then come back next weekend. There will be far more parking places and seats for you then. But we are happy you made the choice to be with us today!

One fine spring morning, a group of four-year-olds gathered in a Sunday school class in Chattanooga, Tenn. The teacher eagerly looked out at her class and asked the question: “Does anyone know what today is?”        Read More →

Easter Vigil

To our elect and chosen ones –

“The strife is o’er, the battle won. Catholics at last, you will become.”

Tonight we thank God for your endurance of classes, speakers, readings, reflections – as well as the sins and shortcomings of Holy Mother the Church – which has brought you to this most holy of nights.        Read More →

Good Friday

Even though Albino Luciani reigned as Pope John Paul I for only 33 days, he left behind a vast amount of writings – mostly done when he was a teacher of dogmatic and moral theology, canon law and sacred art in an Italian seminary.

I would speculate that it was his grounding in sacred art – rather than canon law – that led him to write this short, creative piece which he entitled, “A Letter to Jesus.”        Read More →

Holy Thursday

So when he had washed all their feet, Jesus put his garments back on and reclined at table again.

Isn’t it hard to hear those words: “When Jesus had washed all their feet”?

Because two of those were James and John who were privy to the Transfiguration and the raising of Jairus’ daughter.James and John, who were invited to be with Jesus at special times and in special places, but who are bold enough to request the places of honor – one at Jesus’ right and one at his left in the kingdom of God.        Read More →

Palm Sunday

Contained within the Passion we just read is the story of two men who make choices: Pontius Pilate and the thief hanging next to Jesus.

Pilate knew enough about Jesus to know he was an innocent man. He tells the crowd directly: “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”       Read More →

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Once was a farmer had some puppies to sell. So he made a sign advertising the pups to nail on the post at the edge of his yard. As he was nailing the sign to the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down to see a little boy with a big grin and a few coins in his hand.

“Mister,” the boy said. “I want to buy one of your puppies.”

“Well,” said the farmer, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”

The boy dropped his head for a moment, then looked back up at the farmer and said, “I’ve got 39 cents. Is that enough to at least take a look at them?”

“Sure,” said the farmer, and with that he whistled and called out, “Dolly. Here, Dolly.” And out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly, followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy’s eyes danced with delight.

But then out from the doghouse peeked another little ball of fur. This one was noticeably smaller than the rest. Down the ramp it slid and began hobbling in an awkward attempt to catch up with the others. This pup was clearly the runt of the litter.        Read More →

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Having dealt with our demons in the desert, honed our listening skills in the solitude of the mountaintop, and having sunk our roots deep into the fertile soil of Christ, we are now ready to take up the difficult ministry of being an ambassador of Christ.

This work, this ministry, is not for the weak of heart – as it is tough stuff – because it includes the ministry of reconciliation mentioned by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.

So in honor of Laetare Sunday, when the rigors of Lent are to be eased just a bit because we have made it slightly beyond the half-way point: a special guest.        Read More →

Third Sunday of Lent

Thanks to the power of the internet, within five to 10 minutes this week, I found out the following about fig trees on various websites:

Gardeners who throw care to the wind when planting a fig tree will be disappointed.

When it comes to the care of a fig tree, you should know that growing fig trees requires well-drained and fertile soil. Given that the twisted branches of the common fig extend as wide as the tree is tall, the fig’s root system is, out of necessity, extensive.        Read More →

Second Sunday of Lent

Someone once asked St. Joan of Arc why God spoke only to her.  She responded, “Sir, you are wrong.  God speaks to everyone.  I just happened to listen.”

I’m sure we’ve all heard the adage, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak,” but how about, “Wisdom is the reward you receive if you listen when you would rather talk.”        Read More →

First Sunday of Lent

“You are ambassadors for Christ; God appealing through us,” so began our Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday with these words from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.

When we become an ambassador for Christ, we represent him – not ourselves.

When we become an ambassador for Christ – we must decrease, while the qualities and values of Christ must increase within us.

When we become an ambassador for Christ, it most likely means we must change in order to better represent Christ and change is what Lent, and life, are all about.        Read More →

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, is one of those rare days in our Lectionary when we use the same readings year after year after year. So you would think by the time you got to be my age, you would know it all – that there would not be anything in the readings you had never noticed before.

Well, that’s just not true or at least not for me this year. I was looking at these readings several weeks ago and when I read the Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, it was like I was reading it for the first time. Especially, the first line: “Brothers and sisters, we are ambassadors for Christ as if God were appealing through us.”        Read More →

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

My name is Simon, although now I mostly go by Peter. Let me tell you how it all started.

It was a day pretty much like any other. We’d been fishing all night, but we did not have much to show for it. That happens from time to time.

James and John tend to worry a little more on nights like this, but our business is holding its own. We have our steady customers, and God has blessed us with enough profit to make ends meet for our families and then some. It’s the Roman taxes that give us the biggest headaches, but we work hard and trust God will provide.

We had not expected that our lives would be changed so completely after that day. A new preacher from Nazareth named Jesus had come to our village. He was related somehow to John, whom everyone called the Baptizer.        Read More →

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

I was home in my native place several weeks ago to have a wedding for one of my cousins. While I was there, one of the matriarchs of my childhood parish, Miss Martha, died at the ripe old age of 99.

When I went to her funeral, I sat in the back pew of the church just to enjoy a perspective that I seldom ever get to have – and boy, can you see a lot!

I noticed the Christmas banners, as well as many of the other Christmas decorations I remembered from my youth. And there was old Mr. Ben, ushering people to their pews as I’m sure he has been doing for at least the last 50 years. Mr. Paul beautifully sang the Ave Maria after Communion just as he had at my maternal grandmother’s funeral back in 1976.

Later I would find out his wife, Miss Rose, was still in charge of the funeral dinners, just as she always has, and always will until the day she is laid to rest in the parish’s hillside cemetery.        Read More →

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

So perhaps you had the time to read about the challenge of ongoing education and faith formation in the Vatican II insert in the bulletin last week. There, you would have read that one of the ways we need to stay connected to Jesus – is by inviting him into our homes. The insert quoted the 1994 U.S. Bishops’ document, “Follow the Way of Love”:

“A family is our first community and the most basic way in which the Lord gathers us, forms us, and acts in the world. The point of this teaching is simple, yet profound. As Christian families, you not only belong to the church, but your daily life is a true expression of the church.”        Read More →

Lou Distefano

Bill, on behalf of myself and the parish community of Holy Family, I would like to offer you our sympathies on the loss of your sister, Lou.

The Order of Christian Funerals – or the funeral ritual of the Catholic Church – quotes St. Paul to the Corinthians: “If one member suffers in the body of Christ which is the Church, all the members suffer with that member.” (1 Cor. 12:26). For this reason, the ritual states, those who are baptized into Christ and are nourished at the same table of the Lord are responsible for one another. Thus, when a member of Christ’s body dies, the faithful are called to a ministry of consolation, to care for the dying, to pray for the dead, to comfort those who mourn.

And that’s why we gather with you today. Lou was baptized into Christ and we were nourished at the same table of the Lord with her. So we gather to do our ministry of consolation – to pray for Lou – and to comfort those who mourn her death.        Read More →

The Baptism of the Lord

This coming Thursday, January 17, at 7 p.m., we have 32 young adults from our parish who will be receiving the sacrament of confirmation. I tell you this so first of all, you may know you are invited to come if you would like and second of all so that we can congratulate them on this step that they are taking on their faith journey.         Read More →

Gloria Pursell

Well, Paula, Brenda and Jim, here we are together again. It really comes as no surprise to me that a little over a month after burying Kenny, we are back here today to bury Gloria.

When you are together for 66 years in marriage, a marriage that was decided on just the second date when your dad kissed your mom and she said, “It made my toes curl and I knew he was the one,” it’s just sometimes too hard to go on without the one you love.       Read More →

Epiphany

So whatever happened to those gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh brought to Jesus by the kings?

This is one person’s theory as told in the story: “The Miracle of the Myrrh” by Marci Alberghetti, which I have taken a few liberties with.

After Jesus returned to heaven, his mother, Mary, moved to Ephesus where she lived next door to a boy named Mendel, and his father, Simon. Mendel was crippled in his legs – so could not walk – and he had no mother. So every day, when his father went off to work, Simon would first push Mendel in a little cart over to Mary’s house – where Mendel would help Mary bake bread for the poor people in the village.        Read More →

Vincie Armato

On behalf of myself, John Winkels, Peggy Petersen and Patty Whelchel – all of whom helped with the planning of this funeral and with the prayer service last night, and on behalf of this faith community of Holy Family, I wish to extend to you, Andrew, our deepest and sincerest sympathies on the loss of your wife, Vincie.

Someone much better than I once said that the goal of every person in marriage should be to find that one person who we like ourselves best when we are around them.        Read More →

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